Amtrak Is Taxpayer-Funded Trains For The 1%


An estimated 99 percent of Americans don’t use the Northeast corridor at all. Those who do, as Amtrak boasts, are “highly educated, affluent and influential”: 92 percent have college degrees and their average household income is well above the national median, clocking in at $170,000 a year. Yet, taxpayers are still on the hook for subsidizing $60 of each Amtrak ticket to fund the travel of the wealthy and well-connected.
The author of this Op-Ed is Brent Gardner, who is the Vice-President for Government Affairs of Americans For Prosperity. His organization it is well know is largely funded by the Koch family. Much of what Mr. Gardner says is true, but he fails like most people to understand what is the main reason Amtrak loses so much money. Amtrak has many trains which operate at a profit. Around the world most long distance intercity and high speed passenger trains make an operating profit. The problem that keeps being ignored is the cost to Amtrak of owning and running the Northeast Corridor. Owning a railroad is expensive. Most of the trains and the infrastructure of the NEC is needed for commuter trains which don’t operate at a profit generally. What the commuter services pay Amtrak doesn’t cover Amtrak’s costs. There is much that can be done to improve America’s intercity rail service and make it self supporting. But this is unlikely to happen until there is a plan to fund the infrastructure for the many trains besides Amtrak’s on the NEC. An estimated 99 percent of Americans don’t use the Northeast corridor at all. Those who do, as Amtrak boasts, are “highly educated, affluent and influential”: 92 percent have college degrees and their average household income is well above the national median, clocking in at $170,000 a year. Yet, taxpayers are still on the hook for subsidizing $60 of each Amtrak ticket to fund the travel of the wealthy and well-connected.

Read original story in US News & World Report

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